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Gamification for Your SMB

For several years now, making things fun has been a part of many a startup’s attempts to gain market share and notoriety. Make it a game. Kids, young adults and, even, middle-aged people are more easily attracted to doing things when they are fun.

I don’t really believe it is new. How long now has Jeopardy been running on TV? The sages of all human knowledge—Google and Wikipedia—say it started in 1964. That means we’ve been playing and watching a game to improve our knowledge of history, science, trivia, and more for 54 years now. That’s a long, long time for gamification of education.

CES last week had it in many places. One new product is for younger children to help them with brushing their teeth. Using a BlueTooth connected tablet, an app has dirty, rotten monsters attacking. The toothbrush needs to be moved to the correct teeth for the proper length of time for the child to dispatch the monsters on the screen and on their teeth.

Strategy board games entice people to play for hours on end. Chess is no longer interesting enough. The war games have to be much more realistic to command the attention of today’s virtual generals and admirals. RISK is not just a problem for a business, but a well-worn game. Settlers of Catan, Game of Thrones, and Ticket to Ride are now popular.

Whenever I say “business plan” to someone, I swear I hear a groan. It sounds as if, inside their heads, they are whining to their mother, “Do I have to?” No, you don’t HAVE to. You also don’t HAVE to survive and grow as a company. Some people are innate at business, or lucky and can thrive without one. But, given the failure statistics of businesses, I’d say it’s a good idea to do something related to assessing where your business is now, where you want to get to, and, very importantly, how you plan to get there. I call it point A ?_ point B since the “to” part is a question that must be answered, communicated, and executed.

So, I’ve decided to stop talking about BPs (Business Plans). I don’t want to get your Blood Pressure up. Instead, I’m committed to the gamification of your business. From now on, it’s a GAME plan where GAME is an acronym for Grow And Make Earnings.

I don’t mean to trivialize business. Games are now worth millions of dollars. How many of talked about the Minnesota Vikings and Philidelphia Eagles playoff game Monday morning? What excitement was generated in less than 2 minutes of play? Did any of you notice the folded cards that most of the coaches carried around, using them to shield their mouths from cameras while talking to their other coaches? Those were well thought out game plans with risk management for every possible problem. The quarterbacks knew exactly what to do. So did most of us. We knew they would go for pass plays and run the ball out of bounds to stop the clock. We knew when they would try for a field goal. It was all planned out. They had a GAME plan. They had spent hours reviewing the competition and their plays and their players. They had assessed the weather conditions. They knew which players were injured. They knew. And, they planned. That game was worth how many millions of dollars to the players, the coaches, the advertisers. We all had fun. But, it was just a game, right?

I hope, this year, you spend as much time preparing your GAME plan to accelerate the profitable growth of your company. It’s a GAME worth many dollars, maybe millions of dollars.